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Factsheet:

Employee engagement

Resource summary

This factsheet was last updated in December 2015.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement as a concept has become increasingly mainstream in management thinking over the last decade. It proposes a ‘mutual gains’ employment relationship, creating a win-win for employees and their employers. It’s usually seen as an internal state of being, both physical, mental and emotional, but many also view it as encompassing behaviour and in particular work effort. Typical phrases used in employee engagement writing include discretionary effort, going the extra mile, feeling valued and passion for work.

One of the most enduring definitions is that from the Utrecht University group of occupational psychologists. This measures work engagement, which has three elements:

  • vigour (energy, resilience and effort)
  • dedication (for example, enthusiasm, inspiration and pride)
  • absorption (concentration and being engrossed in one’s work).

The strength of this is its focus on a specific physical and psychological state of being, meaning that it can be reliably measured and acted upon. However, it misses another aspect, awareness of business context, that’s often seen as central to employee engagement and understanding the line of sight between one’s job role and the purpose and objectives of the organisation.

A broader view of employee engagement came in Kingston Business School’s work with us. This defined employee engagement as “being positively present during the performance of work by willingly contributing intellectual effort, experiencing positive emotions and meaningful connections to other”.

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  • What is employee engagement?
  • What are the benefits of employee engagement?
  • Is there a dark side to employee engagement? 
  • How to build an engaged workforce
  • The engagement levels of British employees
  • Ongoing debates and the future of employee engagement
  • CIPD viewpoint
  • Useful contacts
  • References
  • Further reading.

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